Taking on Couch to 5k with my daughter
Mother and Daughter, Helen and Evie's couch to 5k storyor
Date: 16 November 2021 Author: Energise Me
One of the biggest changes in a women’s life is having a baby. As life changes so do the ways we choose to be active. Charlotte shares how she has adapted how she chooses to be active during her pregnancy.
My name is Charlotte. I am 36 years old, and currently 32 weeks pregnant with my first baby.
I would say I have always been active. But in the last decade, I have made more of an effort to get fitter, being active and I have placed more value in feeling strong. As I have gotten older I have realised I don’t need to be afraid to try new things and challenge myself. I also became more at ease with not worrying about what other people think. If I come last in an event I just see it as I got ‘better value for money’ than the other participants!
Before I became pregnant, I would on a weekly basis go to an outdoor Bootcamp. It runs 4 times a week, and I would go as often as my shifts allow. I cycle to work, my Bootcamp and generally as many other places as I can. During the pandemic, I also started doing a weekly outdoor PT session. This was because my Bootcamp at times wasn’t running due to the government guidelines, and with working some really tough shifts as a Sister in the Emergency Department I felt I needed a focus outside of work for my well-being.
Pre-covid I would also do Parkrun (parkplod in my case!) and the occasional cycling event/duathalon. Sometimes I would do a crazy charity challenge like rowing 200km from Jersey to Southampton, or the London Marathon!
The instructors were fab and would give me an alternative exercise or a suggested modification if I needed one.
I have been really lucky with my pregnancy and felt well throughout so mostly carried on with my normal activities. Once I had my first scan I told my bootcamp instructors I was pregnant. I also read a book and started following various experts on social media regarding exercise and pregnancy. I kept myself informed and always felt safe and in control. The instructors were fab. They would give me an alternative exercise or a suggested modification if I needed one.
I did feel a bit fatigued in my first trimester, so I was careful not to exert myself. I wouldn’t push myself to go to every bootcamp session and felt ok with having rest days. Although, I did still manage a 2.5km open water sea swim and a 4km river swim in early pregnancy. However, I did enjoy a nap after both events!
The NHS advice for pregnant women is to avoid activities where you are at risk of falling or being hit. You also have to avoid lying on your back for long periods after 16 weeks. It’s important to be careful not to exert yourself. You should be able to still hold a conversation whilst exercising, and you should avoid any strenuous exercise in hot weather.
I’ve had a lot of comments about choosing to continue cycling, in case I get knocked off my bike. Personally, I don’t think any cyclists should get hit by vehicles, not just pregnant ones! I’m a competent cyclist and have felt completely safe to continue cycling during my pregnancy so far. Currently, I can still bring my knees up to my hips to pedal my bike and I am not yet hindered by my change in body shape.
I don’t mind how long it takes me, I just feel pleased for getting some fresh air, vitamin D, and exercise.
I am aware I am more breathless, but I take care not to exert myself too much. Some weeks I can shuffle around the whole of Parkrun, and other weeks I plod the first bit then walk/run the rest. I don’t mind how long it takes me, I just feel pleased for getting some fresh air, vitamin D, and exercise.
That’s the beautiful thing about Parkrun, it’s all-inclusive, you can race/run/jog/plod/shuffle/walk or a combination of all. You will never be last as there are tail walkers, and you get cheered around the course by the Marshalls and other runners. It’s always a great start to the weekend!
The biggest change I have made is making more time for me. Yoga wouldn’t normally be my cup of tea, but I lead quite a hectic life and could see the value in attending a pregnancy yoga course.
A weekly session learning different breathing exercises and movements on and off an exercise ball with some mindfulness at the end of each session. I am hoping to have active labour. My plan is to use a combination of a birthing pool and an exercise ball to find comfortable positions, utilising breathing exercises and movements to ease pains or help open up the pelvis.
I am really hoping that remaining active and feeling strong will help me get through whatever type of labour I end up having. As well as aiding my recovery is postpartum.
I was excited to learn that being pregnant, you could get free swimming sessions or Aquanatal classes. However, so far I haven’t found any time to do them! I’ll keep listening to my body and so far I am still enjoying and safely managing my current exercise. I am sure as I get closer to my due date or when I go on maternity leave I will enjoy a swim and wonder why I hadn’t made time for it before!
I think at whatever stage of your pregnancy you are if you can find time to get some fresh air, feel the sun on your face (even in Winter) and get out even just walking you will soon feel the benefits.
The NHS suggests that the more active and and fit you are during your pregnancy the easier it will be to to adapt to your changing shape and weight gain, as well as coping better with labour and recovering after birth. I think at whatever stage of your pregnancy you are if you can find time to get some fresh air, feel the sun on your face (even in Winter) and get out even just walking you will soon feel the benefits.
I know I am really lucky to have felt so well, not having any aches or pains and sleeping really well, I genuinely attribute a lot of this to being outdoors a lot and staying active.
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